I was reading Luke 5, where Jesus uses Peter’s boat to preach to some who had gathered (vs 1-5). Afterward, Jesus tells Peter to push out and cast nets to fish, here is Peter’s response:
When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” “Master,” Simon replied, “we’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing! But at Your word, I’ll let down the nets.” Luke 5:4-5
Seems like a normal human response. Jesus, “we tried everything and it did not work, but I’ll do it if you really want me to. It won’t work, but let’s go for it.”
Of course, we learn in verses 6-8 that the miraculous happened and Peter was humbled
When they did this, they caught a great number of fish, and their nets began to tear. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them; they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, because I’m a sinful man, Lord!” Luke 5:6-8
I often do this with the things God has called me to or what I am believing God for. I find myself doing these three things when I am spiritually frustrated or disappointed: Listing, Telling, and Doubting
I love lists, it is a part of my organizational DNA. I list my goals, my wins, my lessons learned (positive way of saying losses), my tasks, my schedule, but there is one area where I should not list… relationships. I have learned that lesson in marriage, parenting, friendships and most importantly, with God.
When I am frustrated spiritually and feel defeated, I can become defensive and need to prove to God what “I” did in the relationship. You know what the problem with being defensive is? It is shortsighted in valuing others. You’re too busy building up your own walls and evidence that you cannot take into account the other side of the relationship.
Instead of building the list of my efforts, I have learned to write down and list His goodness and what I am thankful for. Actually, it is a daily habit. Twice a day (morning and night) I write down what I am grateful for and it really does help. That is a list worth building.
Like Peter, I have the tendency to let God know that His idea is not working. “God, I know you moved me across the country for a purpose, but not sure this was the right thing to do.” A common phrase I use since we have moved many times for ministry. I want God to know that He may have forgotten me or He may be a little off on the plan.
It is normal to tell God about your frustrations, and it will actually help you build a stronger faith because He will speak to it. It is when we come in pride as if we have a point of correction for God to take note that we lose sight of who God really is. When I get in a rut and feel like I am just complaining to God about His lack of answers, direction or provision, I focus on myself once again. When I am struggling and identify it, I like to go to my notes and call out Who God Is, out loud and focus on that in my prayer times.
Once I have listed my good deeds and told God about His lack of action, I proceed into doubt. This doubt can start small and only situational, but when allowed to fester, it can become consuming. If I am believing God for something or believe He told me to do something big, but nothing has happened yet, I may not be able to hear the smaller steps God has for me if my head and heart are filled with doubt. My doubt is a spiritual dam, holding back the encouragement, blessing, and direction I really need.
When I can identify doubt, I try to help other people accomplish something, encourage someone, and I seek counsel from someone I trust. I hug my kids, I recount what God has done for me and those I love, I celebrate someone else’s victory and I worship Him. I get alone with worship music blasting or I get out my guitar and write something. I seek the places where He has always been faithful to comfort me.
He Is Good
When I focus on defending myself, I miss the miracle of Jesus using me. Just like Peter, I end up on my knees, asking for forgiveness and enjoying being with Jesus even if I don’t deserve it.
Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash